Is HBO’s ‘The Last of Us’ scary?

The Last of Us on HBO
Image via The Last of Us/HBO

Warning: This article contains spoilers from HBO’s The Last of Us.

HBO‘s adaptation of the critically acclaimed PlayStation franchise, The Last of Us, has premiered. By all reports, it has lived up to the games’ reputation as the show follows the events of the first game, with Pedro Pascal playing Joel and Bella Ramsey as Ellie, two survivors of a global Cordyceps fungal infection. 

Those who become infected can take on a few different forms, but most of them end up acting like a version of a zombie. With horror and suspense elements in both games, it begs the question, just how scary is the show?

Will you get scared watching HBO’s The Last of Us?

Clicker - the Last of Us
Image via Naughty Dog

Horror affects people differently, so there is a varying tolerance as to what each viewer finds frightening. However, if HBO’s series is anything like the games, some segments will be scary to most if not all viewers. In fact, the first episode has one or two jumpscares as Joel and his daughter, Sarah, encounter the infected “Runners.” 

Viewers also see a bloody trail coming from their neighbor, Mr. Adler (Brad Leland), as his mother has become a “Runner” and attacked him. There are explosions, which you could contextually see as scary but would probably add to the thrilling aspect of the show. Other than that, there is a regular amount of violence that you might expect in a show featuring what are basically zombies. 

We can also look at the games to provide examples of how the show might become even scarier. Without spoiling exactly what types of enemies you encounter in the game, there are bigger and scarier infected coming compared to what we’ve seen so far. They are covered in fungi like the one Tess (Anna Torv) is frightened by in the first episode. There are also multiple scenes in the game that take place in near-complete darkness as our protagonists venture into dark buildings and tunnels and come face-to-face with the infected. The only option other than attacking them is hiding, and those sections are tense, to say the least.

So, is The Last of Us scary? Yes it is, particularly to those more easily horrified. This does not mean that the show won’t be less scary than the games or that HBO’s version will prove to get even scarier. However, video games do tend to get a little scarier because you are controlling the character. If you’ve played the games and could handle that level of fright, you will be in the clear for the series. 

Check out The Last of Us as new episodes release on Sundays on HBO Max.